Ireland couldn’t showcase their ability in what was their last scheduled international fixture till the Intercontinental Cup clash against Scotland in late September, and no one got to see what Chris Gayle can or cannot do now that he’s back in the Windies One-Day International colours, as the one-off game in Belfast was abandoned without a ball bowled on Wednesday (September 13).
It was to be Ireland’s first game against a full-member nation since being awarded Test status earlier this year, against the team they beat on the back of excellent hands from Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce and Niall O’Brien in the 2015 World Cup – the last time the two teams met.
That World Cup was also the last time Gayle played ODI cricket, and he was called up for this game after Cricket West Indies announced an amnesty, with Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor also brought back into the ODI fold.
But there was no real chance of watching them perform as persistent rain over the previous 24 hours in the Stormont area left the outfield at the Civil Service Cricket Club ground wet and soft.
All the action at the ground was by Mark Hawthorne and Michael Gough, the umpires for the match, who carried a series of inspections. There was no rain at the scheduled start time, but the ground wasn’t fit enough for play, and after a run of strong sunshine, the rain returned to end all hopes of play, even a curtailed game.
While Ireland will have wanted to have a good run against a more reputed opponent, the game was significant from Windies’ point of view keeping in mind direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup. With a no-result in Belfast, Windies now need to go undefeated in their ODIs against England – starting September 19 at Old Trafford – by either winning 5-0 or winning 4-0 with one no-result or tie, to earn their tickets. Any other scoreline will mean taking part in the qualifying tournament next year. If Windies can pull it off, then they go through as the eighth-placed team on the ICC ODI team table. That will push Sri Lanka down to No. 9 and they must then try and earn their spot in the ten-team 2019 World Cup via the qualifier.
Windies will fly to England on Thursday and play a one-off Twenty20 International on Saturday ahead of the ODI series.